I am totally starting from scratchÃ¯Â¿Â½ how do i find easy to get items without paying store prices?
I am using black nursery pots left at the curb by landscapers. Garden clubs and Craigslist may have more. Craigslist in my area has "free for compost" listings by people who have just cut down a tree.
Start taking walks around your neighborhood. Strike up a conversation with home gardeners when you catch them working. I have received plants this way as well as given out plants this way. Many plants volunteer freely yet I don't want more of them. I would rather give them away than hoe them under. Same goes with plants getting divided when it is their time. I have also collected seed heads while on a walk. Plants have to be close to the sidewalk for that.
The other thing you can do is grow perennials and annuls from seed. You will have to spend some money doing that. Look at your local dollar store for pots, etc. For me this made it possible to grow a hedge of Iberis that I could never have purchased all at once. Check your local Craigs List in the free section. Some gardeners give plants way there. A frugal gardener must have patience.
Some of the plants I have that I got for free are: Viburnum, Nandina, Liriope, Daylilies, Iris, Roses, Pelargonium, Ivy, many ground covers, Ajuga for example, two shades of pink Oxalis (not the invasive variety). Your area will have different plants because this is for my area. I am in California.
The funny thing about plants is that no matter how expensive they were originally, once an owner has too much of them, the owner is, most of the time, quite willing to give it out for free. It's part of the feeling of just wanting to get rid of it as fast as possible, and it's part of the feeling of not wanting to destroy it when it could bring happiness to someone else.
At the same time, there are some plants that owners love to share, so if they find someone interested, they would be quite glad to give some cuttings.
I check my local Craigslist or freecycle group frequently. I also walk or bike around the neighborhood, especially back-alleys, to see if any plants have been put on for trash.
For buying, I make regular trips to the places that I know put plants on clearance, such as Lowes. When I do buy, whether it is on clearance or not, I try to pick a plant that I might be able to take more cuttings from right away. Once home, I start on those cuttings also, so that they might still have some time in the growing season to thrive.
Also, many friends are not much into gardening like I am, but many of them do have enough care that they want their yard to look good along with their neighbors. So I just make it known that whenever they are taking care of the yard, if they have extra plants or trimmings that they don't want, I'll take some (trimmings being basically some possible cuttings!). I have also gotten free plants when they over-buy and know I might be interested in the extras, or when they redo landscaping and want to get rid of certain plants.
I myself have given away plants that, when I see a similar size at the nursery or store, realized that its value of $5-30 must have been a great bargain for the person who got it!
Don't forget friends and family! My mother regularly gives me cuttings off of her plants. I also check the Lowe's rack. They have $5, $3 and $1 plants that are usually still in pretty good shape. You just need to be familiar with types of plants and what you can propagate and how.